Monday, September 13, 2010

The 18-Miler That Wasn’t

I had some real dread going into Sunday’s long run.  For me, 18 miles is where the rubber meets the road, where the boys are separated from the men and where I have traditionally fallen apart in training.  (Wow, psych myself out much??)  I’ve trained for three marathons and encountered more than my fair share of fueling and hydration issues.  Apparently my electrolyte balance is pretty delicate, but it took a lot of puking to figure out what to do about it.

Marathon Number 1 was the Nike Women’s Marathon last October.  Training was okay, but tougher than I expected.  I felt tired the whole time and never hit my goal paces.  My 18 and 20 mile training runs were cut short with stomach trouble that I couldn’t figure out – was it heat?  Was it the energy gels?  Was it not drinking enough water or drinking too much?  Race day dawned and I felt lousy by Mile 5, I was throwing up by Mile 13 and I staggered into the med tent at Mile 20.  DNF.

Marathon Number 2 was just seven weeks later and I was determined to get it done.  I changed my fueling strategy and dialed my time goal waaaaaaaay back.  I only had time for one 18 mile training run and I walked a good portion of it.  I made plans to run with a friend and we had a great time, chatting and running.  Poor thing had GI trouble by the halfway mark but was a total pro and never tossed her cookies.  We ran an easy pace and were happy to cross the finish line at 4:44:32.

Marathon Number 3 was this past March.  I trained hard.  I started drinking Nuun to keep my electrolytes stable.  I struggled a lot with the nagging doubts on my long runs, but I made it through them.  On race day, I was ready to bring home a BQ.  But for some now-unexplainable reason, I chose not to bring my own hydration and there I was at mile 18, chucking on the side of the road.  I had to walk the last 8 miles, but I crossed that finish line at 5:26:42, faster than Katie Holmes.

This training cycle has been golden, absolutely fantastic.  My tri fitness has really made me a faster and stronger runner.  I’ve found a nutrition plan that’s working for me and keeping my stomach happy (puke-free since March!)  I’ve been stomping all over my time goals and feeling fresh while doing it.  Sure, there’s been some self-doubt here and there, but even my mental game has been better lately.  What could go wrong??  A fricken injury, that’s what could go wrong.  UGH!

There I was, cruising along at mile 13 of my planned 18-miler.  I was feeling good, hitting a really nice, but somewhat aggressive, pace.  I turned a corner and – BAM! – it was like somebody Nancy Kerrigan-ed my left knee.  I slowed down and tried to find a comfortable stride.  Not happening.  I walked for a bit and felt better, but as soon as I picked it back up to a running pace the pain brought tears to my eyes.  I know exactly what the problem is – my IT Band – even though it’s never given me trouble before.  The Hubs has had ITBS off and on for a few years and the pain is just like he has described, but of course much, much worse because now it’s happening to me.

I walked some more.  I sat my butt down on the sidewalk and stretched.  I hobbled and cried and walked a few more miles, but once I made it to 17 miles, I let myself walk the last mile home.  FAIL.  The pain was so bad yesterday I was practically immobile.  I stretched, used the foam roller, took ibuprofen and pretty much wallowed in self-pity for the afternoon.  Bye-bye marathon glory dreams.

Thankfully, today I’m (physically) feeling much, much better.  There’s still plenty of pain, but I went to work and I can move in a more or less normal fashion.  I did an easy swim this afternoon and my plan at the moment is to take this week off and take it relatively easy next week.  I need to get in another long run before taper IF I’m still running the marathon.

Mentally….well, I’m bummed.  I don’t want to scrap the marathon completely, but I don’t think running it hard and fast is in the cards anymore.

Tell me your story:  ever had an injury with a miraculous recovery time???

21 comments:

Alma F. said...

You can pull this off. Just take care of it NOW. Lots of foam roller time, stretching, and massage. I've had ITB issues for years and one thing that helps keep it at bay besides the foam roller is hamstring stretches & hip exercises - adduction, abduction, etc. Every direction, focusing on keeping the hips steady & even. AND stretching the hips. RW had a good series of hip stretches just a couple issues ago.
Don't give up!!
Cross train, keep up the faith, do some babying of your legs. Do you have a PT you could talk to about some focused rehab?

track coach and adorable wife said...

Never had a miracle, but just wanted to wish you luck! I do know what it is like to have an injury sideline you and it sucks so rest if you can and do what you need to to get better! Sending you happy healthy thoughts!

Tortuga_Runner said...

PT. It has worked wonders! I couldn't walk past 8 miles with my ITB and now I can do 15 pain free. Only 4 sessions so far. Insurance covers it, but I do have a small copayment. Cheer up, you've got this!

ajh said...

Good luck healing this in time for your marathon! Are you going to a PT? Sometimes they can help you get through a race.

Teamarcia said...

Oh EFFF! I'm so sorry! As soon as I read the Nancy K part on the knee I KNEW it was IT. Mine went just like that 2 weeks after Chicago '07 at mile 10 of a 16.
Dammit I'm ticked for you. I stayed off for 2 weeks (tried after one but no go) and got myself a Cho-Pat, rolled the crap out of it, all kids of stretches, constant ice etc.
Praying for a miracle for you!

Jon said...

Ouch! Sorry to hear this injury popped up like that. Go see a Licensed Massage Physical Therapist. They are like the body shop, but for humans. I had a tight hamstring that made my knee hurt and through deep tissue massage it cured me. Took about 6 weeks, but it finally went away and I was able to train hard the entire time.

Anne said...

No miracles happening over here...but, I've read blogs where people injure themselves close to marathon time and work with a PT to get through the race and some use IT tapings. Good luck...hang in there...believe me I feel for you. Hugs ((()))

ann said...

I'm so sorry! that is never any fun. I have miraculously recovered from things when I actually really and truly take 3-4 days off from everything. no sneaky workouts. it's hard and stressful.....My friend has IT issues and she found that rolling her knee after the run helped ALOT. good luck!

The Green Girl said...

Hopefully you've caught this in time. ::big big hugs:: I'm sending you as much positive healing energy as I can but I hope you don't mind that I'm keeping a little for my right foot.

Regina said...

Oh wow, that really sucks, I am so sorry. My ITB bothers me off and on, but usually a foam roller and an ice bath puts it at bay for a while (until I get lazy about using the foam roller and it flairs up). sounds like you are doing all the right stuff. I wish I had more to offer. I am not a speedy recovery gal. Good luck!!

Char said...

Ughh, ITB! I've had issues with mine which my physio has sorted out finally. I have to tape my ankle/foot to stop it over-pronating and stretch regularly. It can be so debilitating but if you get good treatment you should be fine.

RockStarTri said...

Sorry about your injury. Hopefully it is just a passing ding and you'll be ready to rock!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Urghhh! Sorry! I have no good advice. (well, I guess I could recommend yoga. Not sure if you already do yoga or not, but I think it helps to prevent injuries. If you haven't tried it, when you are healed, and after your marathon, give it a try.)

Laura said...

OH NO!!!! The worst part about injuries is that they always creep up when you're working the hardest and (not coincidentally) performing the best. I so totally FEEL for you! Good luck!

MCM Mama said...

I have no advice, but I just wanted to say I hope it heals super quick for you!!

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

Oh bummer! I'm so sorry! Stretch, foam roll, and try to rest it so that it heals quickly!

Heather said...

So sorry about your knee! Sounds like you are doing the right thing resting, stretching, and rolling. I'd probably also consider some alcohol, but maybe that's just me. :) Take care of yourself, and I hope it heals up soon!

Silly Girl Running said...

Oh no! So sorry about your knee! Ice it! Stretching helps. And some arnyca gel; always does the trick for me.

Hope it feels better soon!

Middle Name Marie said...

You can still do it. Take some time of of EVERYTHING for a little while (week or so) and see how it feels

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

I had a marathon where I hurt myself just before the race and stood on the start line not knowing if I'd be able to finish one mile. I finished the whole thing w/o pain and was so happy about that I hardly cared about my slow finish time. I hope you get well soon!

Laurie said...

Oh, I'm so sad for you. Actually I just read your picture post then read this one (because I've been behind in my blog reading) and I went from being so, so happy to so, so sad. I don't have any advice but am sending lots of happy, heal quick thoughts your way.